One of Northern Ireland’s best known psychics has won his appeal against being found guilty of fraud offences at a care home.
Senior judges declared Patrick Doak’s convictions for false accounting unsafe after hearing new evidence from a former colleague who countersigned money sheets at the former Owenvale Court residential home in Belfast.
The 52-year-old spiritualist, who always protested his innocence, said outside court: “I have had my character and my career destroyed.”
The charges, involving less than £100 in total, dated back to September 2006 when he managed facilities run at the time by St John of God.
Money was regularly entrusted to senior staff on behalf of residents at the home on the Springfield Road.
Mr Doak, formerly of Lagmore Meadows in Dunmurry, had been found guilty last year on five counts of false accounting.
He received a one-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
But his lawyers went to the Court of Appeal in a bid to overturn the convictions, arguing that he was wrongly found to have acted dishonestly in dealing with new balance sheets created to correct staff errors.
A residential worker who co-signed the sheets but never testified at the trial gave evidence on his behalf.
The prosecution accepted her account raised issues which could potentially have gone before the jury.
Allowing the appeal, the judges held that the co-signatory operated to ensure the “integrity” of the ledger as well as confirming the amounts.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justice Weatherup and Mr Justice Colton, confirmed the new evidence could have been relevant to the case made by Mr Doak.
He said: “For that reason we consider the convictions in relation to the five counts are unsafe.”
Although the prosecution could still seek a retrial, Sir Declan noted the passage of time.
He added: “One might wonder whether there’s a great deal to be served by it.”
Outside court Mr Doak insisted he would never have been prosecuted if the residential worker had been interviewed during the original investigation.
He said: “My take-home pay on a yearly basis was in excess of £50,000. Why would I have done this for the sake of £94.50?”
The psychic helped set up the International Spiritualist Union and ran the Centre of Angels complex on the Falls Road.
But he claimed the criminal case and publicity surrounding it has taken a huge toll and resulted in him having to move home.
“The court verdict is like a beautiful rose with a thorn,” he said.
“Prior to today I wouldn’t have been able to go into a care home and change a light bulb.
“I can’t take back the last six years, having to live elsewhere to protect my children and my sanity.”
Mr Doak added: “I have been through the mill – we had an envelope with faeces left at our door because social media went ballistic with the media reports.
“My reputation as a manager has gone and my reputation as a spiritualist has gone – they brought my family and me to our knees.”
His sister Bridgene Kelly, 56, is also set to appeal her convictions for false accounting and forgery arising from the same case.